Sunday, September 6, 2009


I'm glad I finally posted my birth story here for you to ogle and be impressed with. I found a lot of pleasure in re-reading it numerous times while editing and adding comments to it.

I've noticed that every time I get together with my doula, we end up rehashing the birth. I don't know how she feels, but I'm constantly coming back to the phone call to the midwives to let them know my water had broken Tuesday night.

I wish I hadn't made that call.

I wish I had said something to MidwifeL to let her know how little water had come out, or had remarked on how exaggerated women's water breaking on TV is (because it isn't - when they finally artificially broke the second bag of water, it was an absurd amount of water, and more and more kept coming out. I kept trying to clean it up, it was hilarious). Maybe that would have been a clue to her to ask me some questions.

I wish I'd stayed with my original instinct that everything was fine, that I wasn't yet really in labour, that there was no need to alert or alarm anyone just yet.

Because there wasn't. Emily was fine. She was still protected from any risk of GBS infection by the second bag of waters. Had we realized that, I wouldn't have needed/agreed to start the antibiotics, and then the subsequent cascade of interventions. I still think that Emily wasn't supposed to be born until August, and we pulled her out too soon. Ok, only a few days, but I think it would have been easier and more likely less medicated had we waited and let things progress naturally.

Someone on Twitter tweeted a link to You Should Be Grateful, an article written by a woman who had a cesearean delivery of her twin baby boys. She recounts how when she expresses remorse over her birth experience, people tell her things like all's well that ends well and that she should be grateful for the healthy babies, and to put the surgical delivery of her babies out of her mind.

She explains that she is delighted and in love with her babies, but that the way they came into the world was one of the worst days of her life. She doesn't regret her babies, just the surgical intervention that brought them out to her.

I feel the same way. Not quite the worst day of my life - the second day ended pretty nicely with Emily of course - but I feel like I was out of control. I know I said I felt like I owned the decisions but in retrospect, I realize that I didn't feel like I had any other viable choices.

I didn't have quite such a dramatic disappointment - I at least got to push Emily out and I'm not recovering from major abdominal surgery in addition to trying to get breastfeeding working. But the hospitalization, the artificial membrane rupture, the constant fetal monitoring, the Pitocin, the epidural: all of these things were things I wanted to avoid, and while I agreed to them in the moment, I only did so because I thought it necessary for the health and safety of my daughter. Ok, except the epidural, but anyway...

However, she was never in any danger, except from these interventions: in particular the combination of Pitocin and epidural. She was fine.

And I should have stayed home and off the phone. If there's a next time, this won't be forgotten.

I'm going to stop perpetuating the bullshit about putting this behind me and being grateful for Emily. I am grateful to have her with me; she has changed my life immeasurably in the almost six short weeks she's been with us so far. But I'm not likely to stop being angry about the huge diversion from the normal birth I had planned. There just wasn't any reason for it.


TheFeministBreeder said...

You probably already know how many women learn the hard way that intervention-free birth is usually a way better experience. It happens to so many of us. In today's society, it's so hard to believe in your body before you've been through birth. The idea of birth seems so ridiculous and strange. So we end up strapped down with all kinds of things tied to us, and only then do we realize there's probably a better way.

But you should definitely not feel an ounce of guilt over however you need to process the disappointing birth experience. Yes, you have a healthy child, but the birth is YOURS. Birth is important. It means something, and anyone who tells you that you should just be grateful and "get over it" needs a swift kick in the frontal lobe.

Enjoy your daughter, and process your feelings over the birth whenever you need to. And don't forget you can always do it different next time.

Melodie said...

Yes, there is always a next time. And my next time totally made up for the first.

I often wonder about the stats for homebirths. I bet homebirths are more common for women for second and subsequent births than the first. Because you just never know until you know, you know?

Jes said...

As your doula and being there watching and supporting you through your birth, I felt you were extremely empowered despite what was being thrown at you. When I share the story with other doulas they call it the "inspirational and empowerinng birth"....yes you had interventions, but through the journey, look at what you accomplished...a whole new you and a new appreciation of what the word "Mommy" really means...sometimes in this world we are given such challenges and we fight really hard for them...the journey may be way more than we could have ever expected, but we still grew from the experience. Be proud of yourself...maybe if you hadn't experienced this you wouldn't be so determined to keep breastfeeding...challenging as it has been, you have made it a success!

VanderbiltWife said...

I have had some regrets about my birth experience as well, especially those things they did without telling me--episiotimy, pitocin, and making me hysterical by the constant heartbeat monitoring. What's done is done, and I will know better next time.

I think it's OK to feel disappointed, but to dwell on the guilt is not going to make anything better. Consider it very difficult education!